Managing Network Communications at the Edge of the Battlefield: The Single Pane of Glass Approach

Milsat Magazine

Published in Milsat Magazine
Written by Charlie Kawasaki, Chief Technical Officer, PacStar

NetOps and Cyber SA demand rapid and continuous innovation to meet evolving threats to Department of Defense (DoD) information dominance, as well as to address the challenges that program managers and technical operations personnel face with network management.

The promise of the networked battlefield is now a reality. Actionable intelligence can be shared over the network in real-time, from the command post to ground vehicles on the move, to ships at sea, to the manned and unmanned aircraft and satellites above, and to the warfighter at the edge of network.

Meanwhile, the setup and management of deployed military networks becomes more complex as they leverage mature commercial enterprise technologies, and in some cases even use unsecured in-country cellular and telecommunication systems. It often takes days to get a battlefield network up and running, but Army leaders believe that in future operating environments, against a peer threat, forces will have to move on an hourly basis.

Stationary bases such as those established in Iraq and Afghanistan won’t meet requirements. Battlefield networking is a mission-critical service, but cyber is now a contested domain. Commanders rely on the network for visibility into all facets of battle, so Networking Programs must ensure network availability and defense against cyber attacks.

The goal for next-generation Army command posts programs is for networks to be powered up and receiving live feeds in five minutes. Wireless networking capabilities will be key to meeting this goal, making it possible to set up and tear down the network in only minutes, instead of hours or days after warfighters establish operations in a new location.

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